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Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

Lesson 20 of 26

Analysis: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Skrillex)

J. Anthony Allen

Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

J. Anthony Allen

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Lesson Info

20. Analysis: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Skrillex)

Lesson Info

Analysis: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Skrillex)

Hi. So here we are. We're going to analyze. Ah, Skrillex scary monsters and nice brights. Um, so we're looking at melodies now, eyes what we just talked about in the last lesson. So and this one, we're going to find the core progression. And we're also gonna look at how the melody that he uses here fits in with the core progression. So let's have a listen to a little bit of it. And, um, the part we're gonna analyzes pretty much this this recurring melody core progression thing that happens. And this track basically two sections and some other stuff, but the sections are this nice, actually. Really kind of happy melody, um, with the core progression and then this big, gnarly based stuff. So we're not gonna focus on the big, gnarly based stuff, but I am gonna talk about it for just a touch. So let's listen Teoh way. Okay, So, um, let's dive in by talking about that section we just heard last where we've got this big, huge basis. So in terms of what we're talking about, um, we're talking ...

about chords and melodies. So when we look at sections like this, uh, were What is the cord is the first question we would ask ourselves. And for this kind of music in this kind of section, we might just label it as no cord is the way we say it, um, we don't really hear ah harmony happening in that section, we hear Ah, baseline And the baseline is moving between notes so we could figure out a chord. Um, but it's not. There's not really a cord sounding eso. Ah, lot of the time he would just say no cord in this section. Ah, and then we might just figure out what the notes of the baseline are because they are notes and it isn't a key. Ah, he is sticking to a key when he plays those baselines. Um, but it doesn't really have to fit against the cord. Ah, because it's, ah, it's just this kind of big gnarly sound. And there's no riel, vertical aligning of of chords. So he's just kind of playing notes that work in a particular keep. Now we're not going in the next lesson. We're going to look at of baselines a little bit. We're not going to get into sound design on like how to make those those big, like dub steps. Kind of, um, baselines That gets into sound design, which is which is way out of the scope of this class. So, um, I would love to do a whole another class just on sound design. Maybe I will. Um, but for now, we're just talking about notes in courts. So let's get back to this other part. That's a little bit easier to wrap our head around eso in this. We have a court, this part We have a core progression, and we have a melody. So let's hear it one more time. Okay? So listening for the cords, The cords here are actually pretty easy because, um, they're all really? They're all they all sound to me. Like the root position. So I figured out Let's do this. Let's turn off that one For now. Um, I figured out what I hear as the roots of the cords. They basically have this d sharp or e flat, and then these two notes go by really quick and in passing, so they could be ah, whole cord. We could build chords on these, Or we could just say they're passing bass notes, just like we had passing. Melody notes, Um, just melody notes that weren't in the cord. We could see these air passing bass notes, and that's okay. Um, that's a lab. Why not? Um, or we could decide that they record. So we'll figure that out when we get there. Let's just here, um, my baseline and the track pull the volume of the track down to touch and let's hear the two of them together. Okay, so we need to figure out the key. I'm going to try a little bit different experiment to show you another way to think about the key. Because the key that we're gonna be working in is not the first note here. Remember, that was one of the things that that wasn't a tell to tell us. If that was, in fact, the key. But that was one clue. We had to figure out what key it was. We could figure out the whole scale, but let's try one other thing. This one's a little harder to do, but, um, it can be useful. It requires you to listen really close. So what we're gonna listen for is imagine that for every chord we hear something is lifting up, and then for some chords, it settles down on the ground. So we're going up and down. And now which chords sound like we've gone down and we're like, comfortable and sitting down? So some chords feel like we're lifting up and some feel like we're just, like, settled in and comfortable the ones that feel like we're settling and comfortable. Those are probably the key. So think about it while I play it one more time. Now it's a little tricky here to use that analogy, because the baseline is actually moving up between these three notes. But this one, this G does feel like like it's settling down. Even though the pitch is going up, it feels like comfortable, like we could stop on that end of song bomb and it and it stops. We could stop on that cord and it would feel fine. That's a good indication of the key. If you could just stop there, Um, and it doesn't feel like you're like hanging in the air, right? If we stopped on like this F, for example, it has a little bit of suspense to it. You're like you didn't quite stop on the right note like I need to hear it. Resolve is what we would call that. So let's go into the assumption that G is our key. So using that as a starting point, Aiken draw out all the notes that I need. Let's take this down and active. Make it nice and short. I'm just gonna draw my scale whole whole off. Whole lovely. There's all my possible notes now I m I n ki Let's find out. Do I have all of the notes in the baseline that fit into this? So here is a D sharp, but there's a D sharp. Good. There's an F There's an F There's a G, Obviously, G fits. There's another f There's a G and an F So all these notes fit. So it's a good candidate That's not a slam dunk, but it's pretty good candidate. So let's go with G minor. Um and I'm gonna guess Minor because oh, I drew out a minor scale. Ah, If it was a major scale, it's converted to a major scale. I'm gonna raise the 3rd 6th and seventh, and now ref doesn't work. We could say, Well, it could be a harmonic or melodic minor, and we could adjust those. Um Rd Sharp doesn't work either. What about that third? That B doesn't show up anywhere, but I think it's more likely that it's a minor scale. So let's stick with that. Um, Okay, now let's build our courts. So I'm just gonna see if these are all the roots of our cords. I'm just gonna build triads right on them. I don't hear any sevenths. So Route third and then the So this cord is this d sharp chord or e flat? It's not our route cord, right? It's or six chord because 123456 So we don't start on the route. That's different, but fine school. Um, now, here's what I was saying earlier We could build cords out of these, or we could just say the cord goes all the way through there. This G happens again. So it's really only the F that's not in the cord. So we could do that, or we could build chords on all of them. Let's try building core Donald and see what happens of a C D B flat D now the F chord here is gonna be my route. Then cycling around again third and fifth Now my G minor chord, my tonic. The tonic is the word we used to talk about the the one chord the the ah, cord that the key is named after we have another G so it's gonna be the same and then an f Samos here. Okay, let's get rid of my scale here, okay? And let's hear that how that sounds. Okay, that sounds pretty good. I'm not convinced on this business. He might be doing it and he might not, But let's try it without let's get rid of those notes. And let's just stretch this here and this here and well, imagine that this move this note moves down to the AF in it up to the G. So that's its own little interline. Let's hear like that. You know, I could hear it both ways. Ah, it's hard to tell with that distorted sense sound that he's using. Um, but let's leave it like this. Let's go with this simpler explanation. Occam's razor. The simplest answer is always true. Um, okay, so we have our cords. Let's look at what they are. So we are in the key of G minor. So this is going to be our one chord are Let's do it in terms of ah, Nick chord names So g minor. This one is also a G minor. Now we have a chord based on f here. So in the key of G, remember our our pattern of our diatonic chord progression in minor. Let's write it out one more time. Minor, diminished major, minor, minor Major Major. That's awfully sloppy. Minor diminished Major, minor, minor major major Depends Kind of going crazy here. So, uh, f is the seventh scale degree in the key of G. We have to go all the way up through it to get toe f. So that's going to make it here, which is gonna be major. So this is an f major. So this right off this one is d sharp. That's going to be in the key of G. We have to go, g. And if we counted up the scale, we would count a B c. The so it would be the sixth, I guess already said that earlier. So 123456 so that's a major. Also, they could just there. So this is gonna be D sharp, major. Or we could call it more accurately. We would call it E Flat Major. Same thing, two different names. So we have an e flat major, an F major, a g minor. And then over here, we have enough again. So those are our cords for this section of the song. Okay, let's look at the melody. So I figured out the melody for us, just the actual pitches. And this melody is really fun because it it jumps around really wildly. You don't normally see that No melody, but this kind of like really kind of frantic sound. Ah, good way to get that sound is the take a melody and go like over an active. So this one, you know, it starts here right away. It goes up an octave to another G, and then it goes up even higher. So it's got this, like the's huge leaps like this that makes for this really kind of ah, almost comical melody. These like really big leaps. So let's hear just the melody. Let's hear the melody and the cords without the tracks on immune to track on Meet the Melody and let's hope this works. Okay, um so let's see how these notes bit with the court's. So I'm gonna jump back and forth a little bit here. So let's look at our first chord here. This is in e flat or a D sharp major. Right? So let's look at what happens in this first bar. So here, all of these notes are happening during the E flat, major. So what are the notes of the E flat? Major? I'm just gonna put him down here. So D sharp. There's my 23 five without drawing the whole key. I'm gonna look back and make sure did that, right? De sharp G and a sharp de sharp G and h are there We go. OK, so these are actually my notes in the cord. So let's see what works and what doesn't work. So the first night we have is a G. It's in the court. Exactly. The second note is a G. It's in the cord, right? There are third note is an F that's not in the cord, and that's just fine. Here we have one of those cool passing tones that we talked about in the last lesson, because it goes quarter tone, quarter tone, non cord tone. But then right back to accord tone. So this little dip in the melody takes us away from the cord for just a really brief little eighth note. Really quick, second and then back. The next note is in a sharp that's in our cord. Then we have another G that's in our cord. Then we have a D. A. D is not in our cord, interestingly enough, but another passing tone. This one might be kind of an anticipation for the next chord, because it leads us into this riff, but it's an encore tone, but most of these notes are in our cord, and that's great. So let's look at the next court. The next court is F A C an F major, and that's happening here. So let's say let's just draw it strong right here. F a c K. So there's our cord. So going up here, there's a C. So this D was kind of leading us into that sea, which is a chord tone, having a sharp which is not accord tone and on this big leap down toe f. So we have this little melody up here having a chord tones in it and then leaving the court tone and then an F and then we hold on to that for a second. Then we haven't a sharp leading down to a nay, so this we would more accurately call it B flat leading into an A. So this is another passing tone that's just kind of on the road to this this pitch and then an F, which we have here and then a d sharp again, this note probably anticipating going into the next chord to lead us down into D. So there's kind of this, ah, stringing together of chords with the melody. So, like the last note of the melody pushes us into the next chord. It's kind of what is doing. Let's look at what our third court is. So this is our G minor G a sharp or B flat and D. So let's build that right here. So there's our cord. This actually notice here. We'll do this so it's not confusing. Well, let's just leave it there, Okay? So just like before this note does lead into the cord, and that leads us into the fifth note of our tonic. Then we have a C non core tone passing on its way to a sharp. Then we have an F not accord tone, but then back to in a sharp, which is in our cord and then a G and in a sharp So right here, we're just outlining the cord. Actually, here to these four notes are doing nothing but arpeggio hating, which we just learned in our last lesson. The court. They're just playing the notes of the chord in order like that. See, that's all the melodies doing. It's just arpeggio hating quote. Let's get rid of those two notes and let's look at our last court. Actually, we have two chords here. First, it's the G minor chord again for the first half of this bar. So if we look at it, we have these two big things here, and this one is just outlining the G minor court G d. A. Sharp G. That is exactly the G minor chord. Just playing the notes are Pesci eight ing. The note's going down, so that one is just outlining the court known encore tones in the second half of the measure is this f chord? So f a C and we look over here. We have an F a sharp G. That one's got a little kind of funkiness to it, Um, but this kind of makes sense. We start an end on a court. Own thesis, he notes, are not chord tones, but they're the same as we just did. So we kind of repeated these these two notes, but changed the the top and bottom of the pattern going down like that. So they're non core tones. But that's okay. Ah, the rest of mark or tones. So the melody here is mostly chord tones, and in a couple spots it's just straight up our Pesci ating the courts exactly as they are. And another thing we learned in this tune is that when you have a melody that has the's huge leaps like that, it gives this this Ah, uh, this the sound that I'm having a hard time articulating. Um, it's a sound that is kind of crazy. Like it like a crazy person type sound. Ah, scary monster sound if you will, um or maybe a nice Sprite sound, if you will. I think this is actually the nice Sprite section of the song. So this, um, this really happy kind of sound. So let's hear everything put together here. Okay? Um, and this chunk of song actually probably works here in here. Um, and let's do what I did in one of the other analysis. And let's see where this core progression works. It probably works from most of the song when that baseline isn't happening. So let's listen to let's get rid of the melody for a minute and to see where this core progression fits in. Well, really, what we're known for So it comes back. What is that? Right there? Way we get the first half of it there. This part probably still has it. Okay, great. And we can actually here at the very end here. I heard this earlier in the tomb. I didn't want to stop to point it out, but it's even more obvious here is that there's he hasn't AARP educator going just on this court progression. So if you listen right here, you can hear ah Corp for an arpeggio gator just outlining the court you hear that? Kind of like cool. So he's got our pressure. They're going. Just add a little counter melody, another line happening in there to kind of picking it up. So this whole tune is just this core progression with this melody and with intermittent kind of no cord sections where he just goes ballistic with his with his big, huge base in these kind of no cord sections. But other than that, it's just this corporation over and over. Okay, They're real Skrillex, scary monsters, nice bites.

Class Description

In the first part of Music Theory for Electronic Musicians, we learned how to work with the piano roll editor in a DAW to make harmonies, melodies, and whole tracks. In this second part, we'll expand on those ideas. We'll work with minor keys, focus some time on melody and bassline writing, and we'll talk about how different tracks work. 

Extensive Analysis 

In this class, we feature an extensive track analysis segment by Daft Punk, Avicii, Skrillex, and many more. In each of these segments, we'll look at their tracks on the piano roll editor. We'll talk about why they sound the way they do, and how you can use similar techniques in your own music. Each of these segments picks apart multiple elements of the song and dissects it in an easily digestiable manner. 

Who should take this course? 

Anyone interested in producing their own tracks. This will get you up and running and give your tracks a unique sound in no time.


This course consists of video lectures, which all contain a session in Ableton Live 9. If you are using a different program (or none at all), no worries! This isn't a class on how to use Ableton Live, and the concepts can be applied to any DAW.  

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Well, I slobbered all over you after your first class and this one is as good or better. I realize people don't go to college for 12 years and learn what you shared in a few hours and you didn't earn your doctorate with just this stuff. I mean Julliard must offer a lot more, but you have advanced my knowledge by miles and I've got to say thank you. Make some more of these simple, common talk courses - I'll buy them all.

Ben Küstner

Real Great Course. I learned a lot about Music Theory and now am jamming better than ever on my keyboard. Thanks Allen

Nick van Lochem

This course its so good he makes it al sound so easy. that ists easy to remember and use in your creations.